Frozen Bicycling

November 18th, 2008

Some of you might recall that I’ve been bicycling to work, about 10 miles each way.

Over the last two weeks, I haven’t been able to ride much because it’s been too muddy. Today I rode to work.

It was about 25F-30F out there, so this was my first below-freezing bicycle ride. It went OK, though I was somewhat on the cool side — I’ll add more layers next time.

Today, I wore wool socks, bicycling shorts, tights over that, my short sleeve shirt, a long-sleeve shirt over it, full gloves, and a balaclava. I should have worn probably one more layer everywhere, but I survived and I’m not frozen.

You may now commence speculation about whether or not I am crazy.

Categories: Outdoors

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Comments Feed8 Comments

  1. dann frazier

    I have studded snow tires for my bike.
    You’re not crazy.

    Reply

  2. bitrot

    Remember, though, that if you’re warm enough standing around before the ride, you’ll be too warm on the ride…slightly cool is usually good, whereas sweating while below freezing is bad.

    No, you’re not crazy.

    Reply

  3. Nick

    You need to read

    http://draco.acs.uci.edu/rbfaq/FAQ/9.10.html

    Reply

  4. Diogo

    It isn’t any cold here in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but I’m afraid I would get robbed on the first week on my way to work by bicycle =(

    Reply

  5. Aigars Mahinovs

    Great article, Nick! I have found that most important part is to keep you midsection warm and wind-proof. Skiing equipment is the best thing for this – skiing jacket, head gear and gloves. Then come the water-proof and wind-proof pants and very waterproof boots (Goretex and such). Do not use skiing pants and boots – you will need something lighter, because you feet will move all the time. With this I have ridden in -15 C and less, mostly around -5 C.

    Oh and riding on a bike over ice covered with a layer of water is much, much easier than walking over the same thing.

    Reply

  6. terah

    Don’t let all the above praise scare you. Speculation commenced quite a while back. :-)

    Reply

  7. Jonathan

    I’ve read some of your posts before and though I like the idea of going to work by bike, I still get a ‘what’s so special about this’ feeling :). I grew up in the Netherlands and there, it’s absolutely normal to go to (secondary) school by bike.

    Of course, the Netherlands are more or less ideal for that, given that it’s almost completely flat and that there are bike lanes everywhere. Even so, it’s normal for twelve year old kids to cycle six miles or more to secondary school – and up to ten miles is not uncommon :). Luckily it’s not yet freezing here…and I admit that children might start to complain if they had to go uphill for ten miles :).

    Have fun cycling!

    Reply

  8. michaelok

    No jacket? I’d recommend at least a windbreaker, especially in colder temps, but I guess I like comfort. Depending on how fast you go, wind chill is an issue, so at bitter cold temps I agree with the recommendations here, it’s good to have really warm mittens, hat, ski goggles, face covering (I wear a silk one). I saw some folks today wearing their x-ski boots, that’s a new idea. Or maybe that’s what winter clip-ons look like?

    On the 10 speed idea from Pete’s Winter Cycling tips, I’d tend to disagree. To me, a 10 speed, while it does have a thinner tire to cut through snow, I prefer the grip and stability of a mountain bike (and I’d really consider the Nokian tires below).

    Just go slow, or ride with one foot almost touching the pavement in icy areas.

    I was searching for snow tires for cars and indeed came across studded snow tires for bikes, and they are by Nokian that make a truly amazing snow tire, so I figure they are good. Ice/snow biking takes some skill, my strategy is to stay at home, otherwise I’ll take some good boots and Leki poles and walk or ski :)

    Another good idea, that is very popular in the Netherlands, is an enclosed bike. These are called “velomobiles” and have 3 wheels, and are like small space vehicles from the Jetsons cartoon. Low center of gravity, although if the drifts were pretty high not sure how you’d get through.

    http://www.metaefficient.com/bicycles/velomobiles-efficient-commuter-vehicles.html#more-971

    Anyway, winter is a great time to ride if you’re prepared it’s fine, great way to enjoy winter (to borrow the Subaru slogan).

    Reply

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